You can try asking people about lifestyle accessory design; the majority would be at a loss for words. Most people do not consider lifestyle designers as ‘artists’ in our country, and more so in our region. This is sad considering there is no dearth of talent here. Arpit Agarwal, the young but very talented lifestyle accessory designer talks about his passion for the craft.
Artistic Journey Begins
He was interested in drawing and painting from childhood. While pursuing commercial art classes in Delhi, he was inspired by a friend to pursue art as a profession rather than a hobby. After completing his graduation in fashion design, he joined National Institute of Design in the discipline of a lifestyle accessory designer.
He worked as a freelancer for sometime, before joining a start-up company Rhizome in Ahmadabad. He worked with bamboo as a material to develop lifestyle products there. After working there for two years, he shifted to his native Assam, where he worked for various organizations in Northeast.
The Challenges Ahead
He says, ‘While working, I decided to start a brand called NEST that specializes in lifestyle products such as notebooks/journals, coffee mugs, mats etc. The USP of our products is that they are inspired by the symbols, culture and mainly the rich heritage of the Northeastern states. The main challenge has been to channelize resources to manufacture the products. The quality of some products made in Assam is not satisfactory, and so we have to source them from Delhi and Mumbai. And the biggest challenge of all is to come up with concepts that customers have not seen before’.
Currently, they have products like notebooks, coffee-mugs, coasters, key-chains, bookmarks etc. The graphic elements are inspired by symbols and motifs of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh. We will steadily work on incorporating motifs from all the eight states of the Northeast. They also plan to develop newer products, using materials the Northeast is known for such as textiles, bamboo, etc. Their hardbound notebooks are made using textiles like tussar, pat, muga and gamocha which gives it an exquisite feel. He adds, ‘Ten years down the line, we hope to establish NEST as a brand that symbolizes the Northeast, its culture, craft and people’.
Designing as a career has a lot of scope as it is still at a nascent stage. There are a lot of areas to be explored in this field and not just in fashion. When you are passionate enough to face the odd hiccups, there is nothing that can stop you.